The Saga of the Electric Bobbin Winder

One of the pains of a weaver's life is the cost of equipment. A production weaver (which we confess to being) needs an electric bobbin winder for the simple reason that winding 10 bobbins before beginning weaving ensures minimum breaks in the process when a bobbin/pirn runs out of weft. Since we use the Schacht end delivery shuttle which takes pirns rather than bobbins, to get the best out of that, the pirns have to be wound precisely and tightly. The most effective way of achieving an efficiently wound pirn is via an electric bobbin winder. So, we purchased a no-name one modeled after the Schacht, barely used, because $369? Really, now!

Unfortunately, the builder of the no-name bobbin winder  made a grave error with his otherwise well crafted tool. He substituted the steel and hard polycarbonate cone spikes with an air nozzle tip of flexible rubber. The end result? The winder works fine for bobbins which have a larger aperture than a pirn's; however, since the tip of the nozzle is almost larger than the aperture of the pirn, when the rotational speed increases, the pirn kicks out. If the rubber tip is inserted carefully and doesn't bend all that much, and if the winding speed achieves an RPM that is acceptable to it (who knows what that is?!?!), the pirns will wind, else it will kick the bobbin out. That infuriated us; so we resolved to make low cost modifications to fix the existing bobbin winder, and to build another from scratch.

One way to fix the problem was to remove the rubber tips entirely, purchase a shaft arbor for about $9, a drill chuck for $7-$13, and a tapered metal shaft for $23. The shaft arbor would be screwed into the drill chuck and then attached to the shaft protruding from the sewing machine motor. The drill chuck would be opened to accept the tapered metal shaft and then tightened around it. An alternative method was to acquire metal cone spikes and replace the rubber on both ends. A third alternative was to acquire a .26c 1-1/2" metal bolt, grind the tip into a smooth point, drill a small hole, insert a clip, cover it with shrink plastic, and go. That's the option chosen, and it works. In the image above, the pin is somewhat visible just above the shrink plastic on the ground down bolt. So far, LeClerc bobbins as well as pirns can be wound on it. 

To solve the problem to our satisfaction, though, we decided to build our own bobbin winder. While we have no problem with the bobbin winders being sold for $369, $389, $409 and such, because of our interest in re-establishing weaving in the Caribbean, we have to devise cost effectient alternatives for the Caribbean market.